DHARMALA Holdings is stepping up expansion in the Far East by diversifying its investments in the financial and service sectors. The Indonesian-controlled conglomerate is considering investing in or buying more firms in the Philippines and Thailand through subsidiaries there. Dharmala Philippines Inc (DPI) will pay about US$35 million to buy a 30 per cent stake from a privately-owned bank, according to DPI chairman Ramon Sy. He expects a contract will be signed next week, with internal restructuring completed by January next year. 'It's a profitable business. We'll gain a lot from bank loans and deposits,' said Mr Sy, who refused to name the bank. DPI, which is reportedly ranked 11th on the Philippine stock market, expects to become a controlling shareholder of the bank by acquiring a further 15 per cent stake at a later date. DPI is also negotiating an acquisition with an insurance firm. The deal is expected to be made next month. The firm, which specialises in providing educational security for students, is reportedly one of the four big insurance organisations in Manila. DPI, like its parent company Dharmala, has invested in three major fields: agro-trading and manufacturing, industrial products trading and financial services. However, Mr Sy said that in order to maximise its profits and play safe, DPI would not over-emphasise its financial and investment businesses. In Bangkok, Dharmala Sulee is eager to expand its car park management by either buying or building parking spaces.